SLANT - PhMuseum

SLANT

Aaron Schuman

2014 - 2018

Massachusetts, United States

If you opened the local newspaper in the small New England town of Amherst, Massachusetts, as Aaron Schuman did one day, you might find a section entitled “Police Reports” – succinct and extraordinarily anticlimactic accounts of crimes, suspicious activities, events and non-events reported in the area during the previous week. In SLANT, Schuman interweaves a selection of these clippings published between 2014-2018, with quietly wry photographs he made within a thirty-mile radius of Amherst from 2016-18, in response to their unintentionally deadpan descriptions. What began as a genuinely affectionate, tongue-in-cheek take on the small towns where Schuman spent his childhood steadily came to reflect the disquieting rise of “fake news”, “alternative facts”, “post-truth” politics and paranoia in America following the 2016 election.

Schuman’s subtly offbeat combination of images and words, however, was always inclined to create a foreboding sense of unease. In SLANT, the relationship that has been constructed between photography and text takes its inspiration from a poeticscheme called ‘slant rhyme’, notably espoused by the 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson, who also happened to live and write in Amherst. In such a rhyming scheme, “there is a close but not exact correspondence of sounds, often using assonance or consonance; generally it is used in poetry to give variations and an inharmonious feeling.” Appropriating this literary device to similar but alternative ends, SLANT serves as a wider reflection upon something strange, surreal, dissonant and increasingly sinister stirring beneath the surface of the contemporary American landscape, experience, and psyche.

“Tell all the truth

but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit

lies

Too bright for our

infirm Delight

The Truth's superb

surprise

As Lightning to

the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must

dazzle gradually

Or every man

be blind —“

- Emily Dickinson

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